Picture: iSTOCK
Picture: iSTOCK

New-vehicle exports hit an annual record of 351,154 in 2018 following a 56% surge in shipments in December.

The achievement helped compensate for another unsatisfactory local sales performance. Sales to customers in SA slipped 1.9% in December from the corresponding month of 2017 — to 39,984 from 40,751.

As a result, full-year 2018 sales of all vehicles fell 1% from the previous year, to 552,190 from 557,703.

New-car sales declined by 0.2% in December from a year earlier — 26,547 compared to 26,595. For 2018 as a whole, they were down 0.8%, to 365,246 from 368,114.

December’s 56% export blast was primarily the result of miserable numbers a year earlier. In December 2017, Volkswagen SA had effectively suspended vehicle production in preparation for the launch of new products. BMW SA was cutting back for similar reasons. The sum total of industry exports that month was 20,107.

In December 2018, with all manufacturers operating at full steam, the number was 39,984. That contributed to a 3.9% rise in full-year sales, from 338,096 to 351,154. That number surpassed the previous annual export record of 344,821, set in 2016.